Category Archives: war

A thought for today, a reality for tomorrow.

We see a makeshift children’s ward. We see little kids who are barely past five years having bandages on their frail bodies, crutches by their bedsides and gloomy looks on their young faces. No parents to soothe them when their tiny faces twist in pain; no one to hold their hands and tell them that their return to a safe household is just a matter of few days.

Then we hear the voice of a little girl; sad, faltering but flickering with hope.

“I think about the generations
and they say they want to make it
a better place for our children and our children’s children
so that they they they know it’s a better world for them
and I think they can make it a better place”

As you might have guessed already, it is the opening scene in Michael Jackson’s song “Heal the World”. 
All of us say that children deserve a better world. Some even go forth to say that they deserve the best. We say that they are the future of the world, the hope of the nation.  Yet, do we restrict those hopes to mere sayings?

Today is children’s day. First proclaimed by the World Conference for the Well-being of Children in 1925, it was established universally in 1954. Back in school, this was a day we looked forward to because it meant one fundamental thing- TREATS! Unfortunately, time flies and I’ve become a person to supply treats for a couple of years. (Sigh!) But I can look back and say that I got my fair share of treats and most importantly, a happy and blessed childhood. I’m grateful to my family, school and all the others involved in that massive task. However, I know that not many can say this because of the suffering they had to undergo as a child. War, famine, family issues, poverty and many other causes can damage or even take away the life of a child.

The day we address these issues efficiently, children all over this beautiful planet can
heave a sigh of relief. Only then will October 1st be a happy children’s day, a day when we truly celebrate the future of the world.

Immortal at last

(It happened to me last night)
I was late, and that was all I knew. Not that my mother had reason to be worried anymore, no, I could very easily have found my way back home-thankfully, I was then not the same person I’d been earlier. But tonight was to be very different. 
The road was long and hard, and as I walked along the pavement I thought only of a good meal and a good night’s sleep. But what awaited me would shock the very foundations of what I felt about my country.
I had never expected him to take me home.
The first three-wheeler I could find, small but not at all a rickety little thing. I do not remember what colour it was; maybe my mind sometimes pushed aside what I felt was irrelevant. 
He was open to conversation, and not merely about something useless and commonplace. 
Perhaps he sensed what I was on about. 
Perhaps he knew that I was closed off to anything senseless like the words of his fellow drivers. His words poured out to me like an open book, and I read it all. Hatred for a government that did not recognize his, and his brother’s services. Or those of anyone who’d served alongside him in the hellish north. 
He spoke of the enemy being mowed down, of civilians being taken to safety from their former posts as shields of flesh. And as he spoke, my heart ached for the horror he had to put himself through. To have his memory swept under history’s vast carpet by men who sat in rooms and debated on television. This was his reality. We all yearn for a chance at immortality. He probably did too, after his injury. His brother and he had been on the front lines when the monster met his bitter death. 
The government, a powerful organization, had made their displays on wealth and fame to the common man. Turned them into fighting machines who loved their country. It was their Sri Lanka, the land worth fighting for, to rescue it from thirty years beneath the demon’s yoke.
I do not remember his eyes or his face, but I knew that within, he cried. 
Like the true soldier he was, he did not show it.
Just the invisible tears running down the walls of his inner being. 
He had wished for peace.
But not after thirty brutal years. The decades would probably become nothing more to our vast, evolving world, subtle as a passing nightmare from whence our Mother would awake. His story though, will live on within me. His nightmares still arc across his heart and soul as he sleeps. He will be immortal. 

Randomness-Part one

(Based on an in-class exercise at one of the Write to Reconcile workshops. A little simpler than what I would generally write, but here it is, until I come up with my next post)

Savithri and her sister Sujatha led their two dogs across the harvested field that belonged to Ananda, their father’s old friend. Everything was going the way of the two girls when they set out. The low breeze enveloped the world like a cool curtain, lifting the locks of hair off their once-sweaty shoulders. Their dogs barked and slobbered with dumb happiness as only a dog could as the girls led them by hand. Savithri heaved a sigh halfway there.
Their dogs were delightful, dainty little mongrels, and practically took care of themselves meant that she had time to spend-or “waste”-on herself. These were such sturdy, adaptable creatures, far more than the cattle and goats that were so common everywhere. The scent of coconut oil massaged finely into her glistening hair, was dancing on the sweeping wind. Her memory jogged along with her feet. Her parents said so many things about her “habits” as they called them.

“Worrying about her face! I will find a husband one day, then you will find out that your face is not at all important!” her mother rasped sharply from the labyrinth of her mind.

“Buy this dress, buy that!” The thunder of her father’s voice hit her like…

Pursing her lips, she shook her head violently. For fifteen years she’d been alive but for all those years, she’d never known what the thunder in the north was about. She felt in the depths of her heart that something was wrong with someone else in that vast country. A cascade of thoughts rushed through her and the wind brought on a sudden drop in temperature. “Catch up, come on!” Sujatha’s voice struck her in unison with the powerful chill of the wind. Emotions mixed in her mind and heart as she clenched her fists, nerves rising with each tremor of soft tan skin.
“Catch up, come on now!”
Some god with a crude sense of humor had tipped her world on its head. Why would she care what happened to those other people? The poor villagers. Those miserable creatures always shied away from her own race, but all she knew was, they were being massacred. Slaughtered like cattle, so the newspapers told her. Those words in block letters stung her heart as it drummed away within her ample chest. She was, for a second, blind and deaf, standing alone and straight as a pillar. The wind attacked her, biting viciously into her limbs and chest as dull, hellish thunder shook the air. The two dogs whimpered nervously.

“There, there.” Sujatha’s gentle voice calmed down her dog, a small spotted pup with spindly legs. “Now come on, sister, let’s go!”

Savithri’s face darkened, an emotionless cloud passing over her eyes.
She could not explain what she read about all the time. Slaughtered people, both Sinhala and Tamil, lying in their own blood. the hands of Yama, King of the Dead, would not lead them to his dark kingdom. The great tumulus of earth loomed ahead, casting a low shadow over the area. It stretched across the plain like an ugly scar, festering with pus of barbed wire. She had never tried to climb that barbed wire, unlike the foolish village children.
Their screams would echo from whatever monster lurked behind the mound. Monsters that took the form of humans, and wielding the cruelest weapons in all the Three Worlds.

 She was from the biggest house in their village.
She was not poor, she would never be poor.
But she asked herself, what right did she have to insult those ignorant and sometimes extremely young, poor children? Had she been like them-she prayed and wept every night, hoping that she wouldn’t-she would end up with her house burned and the flower of her innocence ripped away from her body.

That scar tainting her landscape hid secrets so dark that she felt her heart sink into an abyss as she pondered about the mound.
No divine hand could allow men to murder one another in cold blood. “Walking the dogs was all your idea, you know. You told me that we could go up to the…” The little girl’s excited and subtly confused banter stopped. Her sister’s expression was rock-hard but her mind was racing. The great wind once more lifted her dress off her legs as the vast shadow of a supersonic aircraft blotted out the sun like a hell-born bird. Sujatha looked up at Savithri.
The unspoken understanding between sisters rippled in the air as Savithri’s gaze hardened. This metal dragon had launched itself from behind the tumulus like all the others they had seen. Minutes crawled by at snail’s pace as the dogs whimpered at their mistresses. Thunder again filled their ears, though Savithri’s eardrums felt like exploding. But they didn’t.
“Savithri?”
“It doesn’t matter.” Her reply was curt. It was hopeless trying to think about the atrocities that occurred in their world. Nothing mattered. Not the dancing blades of grass, slicing against their legs, nor the angry roar that swept across the plain like an invisible wave. It didn’t matter when Savithri’s mind struggled with flashing images of the bomber’s vicious cargo decimating people in their thousands and turning beautiful forests into lifeless hellholes.

It didn’t at all.

Remembering our heroes

 Appeared in the nation newspaper’s Jeans magazine on May 18
Roadblocks. The scorching sun. Checking vehicle after vehicle. Rude drivers and passengers. Fear. Exhaustion.

Their faces are rarely brightened by a smile. They sometimes make a joke, but only to keep away the fear. To feel like they live normal lives. Not ones that could end at any given moment.
Just a few years ago, our country was at war. We heard of explosions, shootings, death after death. It was a scary time to live in. Children were taken away, they were given weapons and uniforms. Stories about child soldiers brought fear to the hearts of parents. Just a few years ago, we couldn’t walk on the roads as we do now. Everywhere we looked were men in uniforms. They carried guns and looked at everyone as if they were the enemy.
You lived in the part of our not distant history when war was a word heard too often. You may not remember it all too well, but there are people who know nothing but the war. In 2009, just five years ago, that war came to an end. And who do we have to thank? Men who go about in big vehicles? Men who add title after title to their names?

The thinkers, the plan makers and decision makers played a huge role in ending the war. However, Victory Day isn’t for them. It’s for those who carried out their orders, who fearlessly fought for peace. And for what?  So that we can forget what they have sacrificed?
You don’t need to remember how many died, how many survived, and how many barely did. You don’t need to remember where the fighting took place, where the leaders lived and who the good guys were. It’s good if you do. It’s part of our history, our story, regardless of how dark those times were. However, what’s more important to remember is that each one of those soldiers fought for you. They sacrificed their lives so you could live a relatively safe life. They did what many couldn’t, and shot bullet after bullet at those who weren’t their own enemy so that you could go to school, have fun and live a good life.
After all, those battles, some won, others lost, what do they get? One day in a 365 day calendar where some remember to not forget them? We often curse the parades. We consider it all a waste of money and a waste of time. We think the war is given too much attention and we don’t see the point of talking about it, five years since its end.

There are many war-related sites in the Northern Province. Just after the war ended, many flocked to see where this leader lived or that leader died. There were young men of the armed forces giving visitors information about these sites. And as they described the war, even though those same words were uttered several times, their voices cracked as they described the last few battles, which resulted in so many deaths and so much damage. These were men who didn’t just drive past houses that were covered in bullet holes. They camped in those broken down houses, hoping they won’t be caught. They spent night and day hoping these power hungry leaders would solve their problems without dragging innocent men into this seemingly never ending war.

These are not exaggerated stories or feelings. These men aren’t pretending to be tired and hurt. They had no say when they lost a limb or two. They never willingly or happily stepped on a land mine.
Decades from now, the soldiers who survived will also be dead. Their graves will be visited by family only. The story of the war will be told by those who planned it, instead of those who fought it. And what’s your duty? To forget these men and women who sacrificed everything for a country whose people aren’t at war with each other?
Remember them. Remember what they did. Remember their fearless dedication to their nation. Remember them because that’s all they can ask from you. Remember them, and never forget.

Roadblocks. The scorching sun. Checking vehicle after vehicle. Rude drivers and passengers. Fear. Exhaustion.
Their faces are rarely brightened by a smile. They sometimes make a joke, but only to keep away the fear. To feel like they live normal lives. Not ones that could end at any given moment.
Just a few years ago, our country was at war. We heard of explosions, shootings, death after death. It was a scary time to live in. Children were taken away, they were given weapons and uniforms. Stories about child soldiers brought fear to the hearts of parents. Just a few years ago, we couldn’t walk on the roads as we do now. Everywhere we looked were men in uniforms. They carried guns and looked at everyone as if they were the enemy.
You lived in the part of our not distant history when war was a word heard too often. You may not remember it all too well, but there are people who know nothing but the war. In 2009, just five years ago, that war came to an end. And who do we have to thank? Men who go about in big vehicles? Men who add title after title to their names?
The thinkers, the plan makers and decision makers played a huge role in ending the war. However, Victory Day isn’t for them. It’s for those who carried out their orders, who fearlessly fought for peace. And for what?  So that we can forget what they have sacrificed?
You don’t need to remember how many died, how many survived, and how many barely did. You don’t need to remember where the fighting took place, where the leaders lived and who the good guys were. It’s good if you do. It’s part of our history, our story, regardless of how dark those times were. However, what’s more important to remember is that each one of those soldiers fought for you. They sacrificed their lives so you could live a relatively safe life. They did what many couldn’t, and shot bullet after bullet at those who weren’t their own enemy so that you could go to school, have fun and live a good life.
After all, those battles, some won, others lost, what do they get? One day in a 365 day calendar where some remember to not forget them? We often curse the parades. We consider it all a waste of money and a waste of time. We think the war is given too much attention and we don’t see the point of talking about it, five years since its end
There are many war-related sites in the Northern Province. Just after the war ended, many flocked to see where this leader lived or that leader died. There were young men of the armed forces giving visitors information about these sites. And as they described the war, even though those same words were uttered several times, their voices cracked as they described the last few battles, which resulted in so many deaths and so much damage. These were men who didn’t just drive past houses that were covered in bullet holes. They camped in those broken down houses, hoping they won’t be caught. They spent night and day hoping these power hungry leaders would solve their problems without dragging innocent men into this seemingly never ending war.
These are not exaggerated stories or feelings. These men aren’t pretending to be tired and hurt. They had no say when they lost a limb or two. They never willingly or happily stepped on a land mine.
Decades from now, the soldiers who survived will also be dead. Their graves will be visited by family only. The story of the war will be told by those who planned it, instead of those who fought it. And what’s your duty? To forget these men and women who sacrificed everything for a country whose people aren’t at war with each other?
Remember them. Remember what they did. Remember their fearless dedication to their nation. Remember them because that’s all they can ask from you. Remember them, and never forget.
– See more at: http://www.nation.lk/edition/jeans/item/29174-remembering-our-heroes.html#sthash.m7qwPg9s.dpuf

VESAK

May…

The fleet of metal dragons roars overhead. They circle the wild, tangled hinterland around the little suburban town…

He was the only person who even thought of stepping outside that night before the celebration. The moon began, slowly, to show itself to him. A pale ghost upon thousands of miles of inky space, it threw fleeting, floating shadows onto the ground at his feet. Visages of mighty, ancient trees, a display of shadow puppets with no strings around him; strange, misleading, harbingers of lunacy.
Warmer lights blink and flicker, tiny orange eyes peeking delicately out of darkened corners that would be otherwise engulfed by endless night.
A celebration.
His family had been preparing themselves, the whole town wanted to pour its heart out today in the watchful shadow of the ancient, inconstant moon. Rosy paper lotuses of light frame floated across the ground as if on a pond, golden lights glowing within their hearts. The vibrancy and spectacles of glowing reds, blues and yellows coming from the forest-buckets of shimmery cellophane which had replaced nightly white jasmines.
Octagonal frames with string hanging down, lights softly glowing behind crisp, tissue paper skin.
A festival of light and beauty.
A celebration in a small place, watched by the holiest of beings in the vault of the Six Heavens. His was a town where every day in the month of May, voices rang out into the sky in proclamation of the Threefold Miracle. Song-like verses and chants rumbled from beneath the roofs of every home here. More village than town perhaps? Still large enough to be lit from head to toe, multicolored stars affixed to wires crisscrossing every home, pole and tree.

Even his parents.
The mighty white concrete dome is clothed in striped flags and banners of warm colors, with string upon string of lights wrapped around from base to apex. A welcoming giant of the gentlest order, it beckoned the devoted crowd hither. Always it was a welcoming sight, the most beautiful sight. This was a special night. The chorus of verses and prayed was louder tonight, the shining heads of monks in saffron robes now multiplied as if by magic.
His parents too were here, lost among the faithful. But the faithless would taint and tarnish this day, writing its history in rotten blood.
The prayers began and ended again and again, a celebration to be heard by the gods.

A  blast of sound!
Fast as lightning, loud as thunder echoes through the chilly night air. It is coming now, a dark goliath and his vicious pack blackening the weeping, helpless moon. They drift in lower.
He and his parents haven’t the slightest clue that the ominous cloak is being draped across the heavens. The thunder of prayer is deafening still…then the flash of light blinds them…
He feels the force…

The thunder grows in tone, the fire spreads across the town in a tsunami of heat and light, a raging wall from hell’s maw that sweeps across the verdant lands of mortals! Roars from the aerial marauders! Hundreds of blood-curdling screams of people being swept away, picked up from the charred earth by claws of flame, or burned in their sleep. They are washed away by this tidal wave of flame, hundreds of faces wiped clean off the slate they call their country, merely tiny figures, living dolls nameless before the god of this apocalypse!
His parents are running, it is a marathon almost. They are retreating from the blaze that creeps ever closer, a fiery tiger stalking menacingly its innocent prey. Another man is consumed, overwhelmed by the ever-advancing wall of death…
His mother is next, picked screaming off her feet, skin melted away by the cruel, swirling vortex-and her husband has his flesh flung away and his bones turned to horrible imitations of firewood. The infernal dogs have ravaged the land! They howl into the air, breaths of ash in a mushroom cloud that keeps spreading on forever it seems, a blanket that the sky cannot drape itself it but has no choice. The moon hides behind its cloudy sheet in terror.

He is the only one alive.

The dying blaze cleans the festival grounds, a pair of terrible jaws scraping the earth of life with tongue of flame.
He runs.
He is ALIVE.
Thunder boils the air above him as the leaves of the forest shiver in fear. The blast radius is immense. His hometown in now wiped away from the face of the earth. He is too young to know of the monsters who soared past just a while ago. Why is he here? Is it the faithful or the faithless who died? Why is he safe? Who saved him? Is he faithless or faithful? He has not one answer. He never will. The black sky is painted red with the blood of the dead. The devil has eaten off a chunk of his world; never will the earth here be good for humanity; it will always be that haunted graveyard, nameless men and women, their life-strings torn away by some dastardly puppeteer.
This inferno is not the seven-circled nightmare of Dante. It is hell on earth.
All he knows is that the forest beckons him.
The black maw is comfort now. He does not know where he will go. All he knows is, he will go on, he will have to go on…

May…

The fleet of metal dragons roars overhead. They circle the wild, tangled hinterland around the little suburban town…

On human rights, love and language


The violation of Human Rights happens around the globe. Often, we don’t even know about this breach, because we aren’t aware of our rights. This simple illustration will help you know and understand your rights. And through this, we hope you can fight for your rights, and those of other people. We also hope that through this awareness, we all can stop stepping on each other’s toes and instead respect each other’s rights http://maxcdn.zenpencils.com/comics/2013-10-16-humanrightsfinal.jpg
No matter in which country it happens, breaches of human rights are rampant during wars. Dennis B.Wilson cleverly illustrates the futility of war in his poem, “Elegy of a Common Soldier”. We were moved by an extract found on http://www.dailyecho.co.uk/news/10040535.Extract_from_Elegy_of_a_Common_Soldier__by_Dennis_B_Wilson_/
It is true that we cannot go back and eliminate the wrongdoings we have done to ourselves and to fellow human beings. First of all we should forgive ourselves, as this beautiful quote illustrates.
“We can never obtain peace in the outer world
until we make peace with ourselves.”
Another way to make amends is to understand the suffering behind those who hurt us.
“When another person makes you suffer, it is because he suffers deeply within himself, and his suffering is spilling over. He does not need punishment; he needs help. That’s the message he is sending.”
― Thích Nhất Hạnh
In both attempts, we arrive face to face with one of the greatest powers of all; the power of love. Linus Pauling, the only person to be awarded two unshared Nobel prizes to date; one for Chemistry(1954) and the other for Peace(1962), expresses this view in his words.
“I believe that there is a greater power in the world than the evil power of military force, of nuclear bombs — there is the power of good, of morality, of humanitarianism.”
-Linus Pauling
The reason for this is beautifully expressed in another quote we came across.
“Hatred and bitterness can never cure the disease of fear; only love can do that.
Hatred paralyzes life; love releases it.
Hatred confuses life; love harmonizes it.
Hatred darkens life; love illumines it.”
—Bacha Khan
Language is one of the mediums through which we can express the power of good stored within our hearts. In this light, we herald the following attempt by the government.
“Sinhala and Tamil are used as official languages and English is used as the reticular language in multi ethnic Sri Lanka. Therefore, it is important for Sri Lankans to gain expertise in the three languages, Sinhala, Tamil and English. One of the aims of the ten year work plan of the government towards a trilingual Sri Lanka is to enhance national and social collaboration among the messes by giving knowledge on the three languages to all the citizens. In line with the work plan launched by the government for a trilingual Sri Lanka, a practical Trilingual Dictionary was compiled with the initiation of the Department of Official Languages, Sinhala, Tamil and English.”
J.C. Ranepura, Official languages Commissioner
 
The dictionary can be downloaded for free on http://www.trilingualdictionary.lk/

Constellations

Look!
Nangi, you aren’t looking.
There, right there
It’s a constellation
Point your finger toward the sky
Your arm stretched
Like my arm.
Now slowly and carefully
Follow my finger,
Trace the stars with me
And unveil what it hides
The bear maybe,
Isn’t that your favorite
Constellation?
Or is it the scorpion?
Trace the stars
And I will tell you a story.
A deep dark secret

You see, Nangi,
Once there was a constellation
There was a mother star,
A father star,
Three child stars
One day the mother star left
For the desert lands
She had to light up the sandy acres
You mayn’t understand
But the mother star had to
Work hard to keep
Her family happy
So the constellation was missing a star
But they went on
Then the father star left too
He was needed elsewhere
Understand this, my dear,
You are too young, I know
But he didn’t go to kill
Even though that’s what
The other kids say
No, the father star went to
Fight for his country
But he’s yet to come home
Like one of the child stars
He stepped on something bad
And he blew out
The way all stars do at the end.
But he blew out at too young an age.

The two star constellation
Was lost, alone and scared
They stopped being a constellation
Of their own
And instead joined this constellation
And that constellation
Until, there was no where else to go
But no matter what happened
No matter how hard times got
The brother star
Never stopped loving
The sister star
And the sister star never
Left her brother’s side
And even when the dark was
So incredibly dark,
They kept shining,
They didn’t let the world
Pull them apart
Nangi, the story doesn’t end there
Our stories are too long
And too unique
To say it all at once.
But remember,
Don’t let the night sky scare you
And don’t let the bright sky
Blind you
Nangi, don’t leave the constellation
It may be difficult to stay,
But it’s even worse to leave.

Poem By Shailendree Wickrama Adittiya
Image By http://taenadoman.deviantart.com/